You can't get that from here.
June 25, 2008 2:08 AM   Subscribe

What goodies do we need from Phoenix, AZ? Husband is going there for a few days in July, and we're trying to think of what treats he ought to bring back to New England - stuff we can't find here at home. Cactus Cooler soda and prickly pear jelly/candy are all I can think of. See's Candies would be wonderful, but would not travel well. Any other regional favorites? Thanks in advance!
posted by Lou Stuells to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
OK, Cactus Cooler is not really an Arizona thing, I think they make it in New York. One delicacy you'll find here and not many other places is 'Mexican Coke', this is Coca-Cola made with real cane sugar as opposed to High-Fructose Corn Syrup that is imported from Mexico. It can be found at quite a few convenience stores and I would imagine at Mexican groceries as well.

Another thing that would be fun to pick up are tequila suckers that have the worm embedded in the middle, I've seen these at a lot of C-stores, gas stations etc.

Don't count out See's entirely; a colleague of mine was going overseas (pardon the pun) and the folks at See's helped him pick out some candies that were less prone to melting.

Oh, and I'm sure he knows this, but it will be hot here. Hot like he's never experienced.
posted by mattholomew at 5:12 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mixes based on Native cuisine.
posted by Morrigan at 6:18 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Can you get dried chilies up there? If not, those keep forever and add something special to soups and stews (and salsa!).
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:40 AM on June 25, 2008

The convenience stores, especially the ones which aren't Circle K's, are full of mexican oddities that I wouldn't imagine have escaped out of the southwest. Like, have you ever had packets of flavored salt with your beer? A pickle in a hermetically sealed bag? Raiding the candy selection will yield some interesting results. Tamarind soda / candy is also pretty... special. (You either love it or you hate it.)
posted by ph00dz at 6:46 AM on June 25, 2008

If you're just looking for tourist junk, I'm sure people back east would get endless hearty belly laughs out of the "Ass Kickin" brand of hotsauces. It says ass! Rat thar on the label!

Southwest Native American themed items (art, handywork, and tourist junk) are also probably worth bringing back.

What he should actually bring back is memories and photographs from Canyon Lake. Won't be able to find that back home, guaranteed.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 7:13 AM on June 25, 2008

If you're looking for more of a long-term memento, turquoise jewelry is very popular here. by that i mean it's sold in all the tourist traps but very few of us wear it.
posted by phritosan at 8:22 AM on June 25, 2008

From your favorite Mexican restaurant (there's bazillions of them, try a lot and see which ones you love), find out if they sell their salsa. Good restaurant salsa doesn't exist in New England, at least it didn't when I lived there, so if you can find some in Phoenix grab it.

I know it'll be everywhere you go, tourist-wise, but please resist the urge to buy Kokopelli-related stuff. Really. It's the Arizona equivalent of a snow globe - you think it's cool in the shop, but when you get it home you can't believe you actually bought the thing.
posted by pdb at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2008

Hi guys. Thanks for your suggestions!

We lived in L.A. for 5 years, and we pretty much got our "tourist" appetite appeased when we moved out and back along rt 66. So the novelty hot sauce isn't quite as much of a...well, novelty. (Plus, I'm from Buffalo. Frank's Red Hot runs through my veins.)

We can definitely get dried chiles, and they are awesome. For the record I've not seen Cactus Cooler outside the southwest, but that may be more a matter of luck than fact. Phoodz' eponysterical suggestions are spot-on with the Mexican curiosities, though tamarind may in fact be too foul a flavor to bring onto an airplane. Mattolomew, I love your Mexican coke suggestion except we do get access to Passover cokes up here made with proper sugar, I believe the availability of this is what is technically called a mitzvah.

Keep em coming!
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:21 AM on June 25, 2008

I admit I'd have a hard time resisting a kokopelli IN a snow-globe, though.
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:22 AM on June 25, 2008

Have him find one of the many Food City grocery stores and go shopping. Food City is a supermarket chain that caters to the Mexican community, and as such will have a lot of interesting things that we take for granted here in AZ. Foods, spices, curiosities, etc. Having a Food City nearby has made grocery shopping fun for us again.
posted by azpenguin at 10:09 AM on June 25, 2008

If you like them, dried chilies keep forever, stock up, they're extremely cheap in the southwest. My favorites are Ancho, Chiltepin, and Guajillo. Also, real fresh tortillas are awesome. You've never had a tortilla if you've only had the store-bought kind.
posted by Craig at 10:26 AM on June 25, 2008

Even better than Food City is the Ranch Market on 16th St & Roosevelt near downtown Phoenix.
It is the ultimate Mexican themed grocery store.
Certainly there are several items there that would be of interest. Plus, it is a bit cleaner than your average Food City. Let's say I don't feel uncomfortable walking into it. :) Your husband can grab a nice aguas frescas in any flavor imaginable, get some lunch, sit and watch the live mariachi band (Sat & Sun) then shop to his hearts content.
There are also some nice cacti/other desert plants available for purchase at the Desert Botanical Garden in Tempe (Galvin Parkway & Van Buren) and they will even ship it for you! This memento will last longer than any food item.
posted by phytage at 11:11 AM on June 25, 2008

People seem to love the dates. I don't really get it, but when my Mom has been out here visiting she always has to go to the Sphinx Date Ranch.

Aside from that, all the crazy Mexican foodstuffs like everyone else has suggested.
posted by BryanPayne at 5:13 PM on June 25, 2008

If you do go to the Ranch Market, they have peeled cow heads. They might be a problem to carry back on the plane. Try the restaurant attached to the market. Best chile rellenos ever.
Second the Mexican Coca Cola.
posted by Raybun at 6:19 PM on June 25, 2008

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